Lagat, who won last year’s U.S. Indoor title in 8:12.60, earlier this month secured his fifth national indoor record at the Armory New Balance Track & Field Center in New York when he won the two-mile in 8:10.07, which bettered Doug Padilia’s two-mile record 8:15.02 set in 1990.
After the devastating earthquake that hit New Zealand over the last few days, 2009 Bowerman Award winner Galen Rupp, who was originally scheduled to run a 10000 meter track race in Christchurch this Saturday, will fly back to the United States to face Lagat in a matchup between the current (Rupp) and former American record holders in the 5000 meter run indoors.
Rupp, the Portland resident and University of Oregon alum, reclaimed the record last Saturday in Birmingham, England when he ran 13:11.44, taking Lagat's old record set last year in Boston down by 6/100ths of a second. The mark makes Rupp the 13th-fastest all-time performer in the world.
The owner of American Junior Outdoor records at 3,000m and 10,000m, Rupp will be in search of his first USA Indoor title in Albuquerque. He’ll face a tough foe in Lagat, the 2007 World Outdoor 1,500m and 5,000m champion, who will be anxious to defend his USA Indoor 3,000m title on Saturday.
The winner of a record eight Wanamaker Mile titles at the Millrose Games in New York, Lagat also owns U.S. national indoor records at 1,500m, one mile and 3,000m, in addition to USA Outdoor records at 1,500m, 3,000m and 5,000m.
Among other athletes entered in the USA Indoor Championships with ties to the state of Washington include former Huskies Jordan Boase (400m) and Brad Walker (pole vault); Jason Colwick (pole vault), the former NCAA indoor and outdoor champion from Rice University who is training post-collegiately under UW vault coach Pat Licari; and, Ft. Lewis based thrower Michael Mai (35-pound weight throw).
Walker, the 2007 world outdoor and 2008 world indoor champion and American record holder in the pole vault, is entered and declared despite not having a mark this season. Walker is attempting to bounce back after an injury-marred period beginning in July 2009.
The third and final event of the USA Track & Field 2011 Indoor Visa Championship Series, the USA Indoor Championships will be televised live on Sunday, February 27, from 4:30 - 6 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN.
The meet will also be webcast at www.usatf.org in partnership with RunnerSpace.com. The free webcast will run from 6 – 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday and from 11:30 – 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The declared entry list for the USA Indoor Championships can be viewed here.
NOTE: USA Track & Field contributed to this report.